Every student that comes across me, makes me feel proud & responsible,just as their mothers would be
Crisis and deadlocks when they occur, have at least this advantage, that they force us to think.
- Jawaharlal Nehru
“Every student that comes across me, makes me feel proud and responsible, just as their mothers would be”.
With the world around us coming to a stand still due to the COVID-19 lockdown, most of us would have imagined that at least the teachers would now have it easy, since there won’t be regular classes anymore nor any students attending them. We could not have been more mistaken.
While most of us were still trying to understand the implications of the lockdown and speculating what the future held for us,I had a completely different agenda. Iinitiated quick measures that would not negatively impact the learning crisis of my students and had to figure out a strategy to keep the morale of the teachers uplifted and the students engaged in the learning process. To combat the limitations posed by the deadlock, I effectively came up witha game plan to address the challenges, that I along with my teachers, faced.
My first item of action was to bring all staff and students together on a common platform. WhatsApp came in handy as every student had access to the application through a phone that their parents used. Subject-wise groups for each grade were created overnight. Teachers followed up relentlessly with the parents to make available alternate numbers if the existing primary numbers were used for business or work by the parents. The teachers owned the groups, according to the grades and subjects they taught and connected with their students in real-time, setting up time-tables, sharing lesson plans, homework and activities.
Another challenge was ensuring maximum outreach and student availability for students to attend online classes. I lead a group of teachers who came up with a light but effective timetable which was also shared with parents before bringing into effect. This was done to ensure that the students had accessibility to phones or laptops during the class schedules. Almost all parent welcomed this initiative and pointed out to us that the transparent schedule allowed them to manage their own resources and time so that it would not affect their student’s education.
All teachers set up online classes based on the timetables on Zoom application, accessible through both a mobile device, as well as a computer. These online classes allowed the teachers to interact with their students in real time, give out lessons through the included Whiteboard application, screen sharing or video sharing.
Some of the teachers were initially apprehensive about the idea of online tutoring, they were all taken through a brief tutorial on using the Zoom app and all its functionalities and now they just can’t stop raving about how seamless and interactive their tutoring has become even when most resources are clamped up against this lockdown.
I have ensured that every online class is followed by teachers sharing the resources or study materials in the form of a presentation deck or a pdf document. Most of the times, these documents include activities or homework that the students need to complete and submit back to the teachers through WhatsApp or email. All teachers maintain a roster of students who have submitted their completed tasks, allowing them to share feedback with their students in the form of personal audio or text messages, informing them about areas of improvements.
The teachers also set up online quizzes and tests for their students through applications like Google Forms, through which they could easily assess the growth and learning capacity of the students they were working with. These online quizzes allowed students to test their abilities, get their scores as soon as they finished a test along with the incorrect answers they may have marked. For any doubts, the students were advised to reach back out to their teachers over WhatsApp or during the online classes and have their doubts cleared.
A two - way communication, is a requirement and I and my teachers ensured to have that. We introduced formal feedback for parents. Therefore, teachers were advised to set up surveys for the parents of the students in their respective grades, as well as another personalized communication with parents and guardians who were still facing problems or were not too confident about the merits of the new methodology. This allowed teachers to collect invaluable feedback from the parents and improve upon the quality and effectiveness of this mode of distance learning.
We also organized webinar for parents on Stress Free Parenting and also on Eye Protection due to increased screen time during online classes. It was appreciated by parents and they actively participated in it.Our alumni students also got involved, theyshared their area of expertise as well as their hobbiesto motivate kids. We hadAntakshariprogram on virtual platform among teachers and alumni. Various Challenges were given to students like yoga, aerobics, online game challenge, fashion show with outfits made of newspaper, making things by freezing water, etc. which children enjoyed a lot.
Due to the current pandemic situation, while we are locked indoors, education and learning could easily have taken the backstage. Overcoming the challenges, we continued unbated by scheduling a video conferencing session between the students and teachers of our school and BRIGHT KIDDIE, Surabaya, Indonesia.
I look after the new virtual engagement education strategy and also take part in the weekly Parents-Teachers meetings and ensures that no stone is left unturned to quickly enforce and adapt into the new roles that is required of my staff, so that the damage to the learning process due to the lockdown can be mitigated.
Ms Sanjana Bakshi Datta
D.A.V. Public School
RK Puram, New Delhi